Before you travel
Here are some important things to note when planning your vacation in Barbados.
There are several airlines that offer non-stop flights to Barbados, either as scheduled flights or as chartered services. Below is a list of the major ones, by country or region:
Canada – Air Canada, West Jet, Air Canada Rouge
Caribbean – InterCaribbean Airways, Caribbean Airlines, One Caribbean
United Kingdom & Europe – Virgin Atlantic Airlines, British Airways, Condor, TUI Airways, Lufthansa
United States America – American Airlines, Jet Blue Airlines, Caribbean Airlines
For more information about chartered flights to Barbados, visit http://www.skyscanner.net/flights-to/bb/cheap-flights-to-barbados.html.
Note: You can contact your preferred airline or travel agent directly, or use our ‘Find a Flight’ widget, located in our toolbar to the left of your screen, to book an affordable flight.
Before leaving for your Barbados vacation getaway, please ensure you have packed the required documents:
Every person entering Barbados, including all North American citizens (Americans and Canadians), should have a valid passport for return to their own country or re-entry through another country. This applies to both adults and children or infants whether traveling alone or with guardians.
Visas may be required for entry into Barbados by many countries. Please check with your travel and/or your consulate before travel.
Click here to see if your country requires a visa:
Visas are required for citizens from the following countries:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Bahrain, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia – Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Monaco, Macau, Montenegro, Morocco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, San Marino, Sao Tome & Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Vatican City, Vietnam, People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, Yemen Arab Republic, Zaire
Applicants for visas must complete the form in duplicate. The form is to be accompanied by two (2) passport size photographs. Visas may be obtained from any of Barbados’ Missions overseas. (hyperlink to https://www.foreign.gov.bb/embassies-high-commissions-and-permanent-missions/)
Duration of Stay: Visitors coming to Barbados should provide proof of adequate means of support for the duration of their stay to the satisfaction of the Immigration Officer at the port of entry. They should have valid return tickets.
Extension of Stay
Visitors wishing to extend their stay should apply to:
The Chief Immigration Officer
Barbados Immigration Department,
BTI Corporate Centre, Princess Alice Highway,
Tel: (246) 434 4100
All visitors to the island should acquaint themselves with the customs regulations of Barbados and your home country, to minimize any challenges or problems that may arise when taking items to and from Barbados.
General Duty-Free Allowances
As a general practice, visitors to Barbados can obtain duty-free allowances for the following personal effects: 1 litre of potable spirits or wine. All articles over this exemption are subject to the applicable duties and taxes.
Note: Personal effects are designated as passengers’ baggage containing apparel and articles for personal use which a traveler may reasonably require during his vacation, e.g. clothing, cosmetics, and accessories.
Restricted & Prohibited Items
The import of certain articles into Barbados is restricted or prohibited to protect the community and maintain animal and plant life, among other reasons. Prohibited articles such as illegal drugs and pornography will be seized and persons may face penalties or prosecution. Restricted items may be released after inspection by the appropriate agency or detained until conditions of the restrictions are met. Receipts are issued for all articles detained by customs.
Among the restricted items are:
Fruits and Vegetables – All fruits, vegetables, plants, cuttings, seeds or unprocessed plant products must be declared to Customs and presented for inspection by a Plant Quarantine Officer. Fresh fruits from certain countries are prohibited to prevent the spreading of pest and plant diseases. Certain plants, seeds, or cuttings may require an import permit and a photo-sanitary certificate. Request for import permits and further information should be addressed to:
Ministry of Agriculture
Tel (246) 535-5100
Barbados offers one of the highest standards of health care in the Eastern Caribbean. It is always advisable to travel with medical insurance; although not always needed, it can still be useful and handy if the need arises.
Banking & Currency
Before you shop and enjoy all the products and services that Barbados has to offer, please note the following:
Currency – The currency of Barbados is the Barbados Dollar (BBD), which is currently fixed to the U.S. Dollar at an exchange rate of $1.98 BBD to $1.00 U.S. US currency is generally accepted across the island in most stores, restaurants, and hotels; however, change is almost always given in Barbados dollars and coins. Barbados dollars are issued in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollar notes. Barbados coins are issued as 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents and 1 Dollar.
Note: For more information on the currency conversion rate for your country please click here.
Credit Cards & Travelers Cheques – Travelers’ cheques in the U.S., U.K., and Canadian funds are cashable at most outlets in Barbados. The majority of hotels, restaurants, and businesses will accept credit cards. There are many commercial banks in Barbados (mostly British and Canadian) and most have ABMs or ATMs that will accept credit cards, dispensing all funds in Barbados Dollars at the current exchange rate. Alternatively, banking hours are generally between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays; and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Some banks offer later hours of service or are open on Saturdays at select locations. The major credit cards that are readily accepted are American Express, MasterCard, and Visa.
Things to know
Here are some important things to know while staying in Barbados.
GENERAL - smoking, newspapers, taxis, phones, dress, the Concorde
No Smoking Law
Since October 1, 2010 in Barbados, a ‘No-Smoking Law’ has been in effect for public areas; this law applies to both locals and visitors. The new legislation was designed to protect vulnerable individuals and groups from the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke.
Public places are defined by the law as: a hotel lobby, hotel room, restaurant, library, museum, auditorium, historic or other sites of archaeological or national significance. Other places where smoking is prohibited include: a building, place, structure, or facility that is owned or occupied by the Crown or a statutory board; a place, site, building, factory, plant, workplace, or other structure that is fully or substantially enclosed.
You are reminded that violation of this law is subject to a fine, imprisonment, or both.
There are two daily local newspapers: The Advocate and The Nation. A vast range of daily foreign newspapers can be delivered to you; please consult with your local hotelier.
Taxis in Barbados are not metered but fares are fixed between certain points. It is always advisable to agree on a price with the driver before journeying.
Mobile Phone Services
Visitors who bring their mobile phones with them must remember to ensure the roaming feature is provided by the service provider and activated before traveling. Alternatively, you can rent a mobile phone locally from one of our service providers FLOW (Cable & Wireless) or Digicel.
Barbados is a tropical destination, so be sure to bring applicable clothes. Bathing suits are best suited for the beach, beach bars, and pools. Beachwear could also include sunglasses, sunblock, and beach footwear.
Be aware that nudism is against the law and, hence, there are no nude beaches in Barbados. We wish to inform you that dressing in camouflage (pants, skirts, t-shirts or any clothing) or carrying items made with camouflage material (backpacks; handbags, head scarves and hats) is strictly prohibited for both adults and children.
Grantley Adams International Airport was once a destination for the British Airways Concorde, which flew to Barbados weekly during the winter season. The Concorde fleet has now been retired and Barbados is proud to be the home to one of these magnificent aircraft.
COUNTRY - time, language, coastal, airport, size & location, climate, tax, electricity, water
Barbados does not recognize Daylight Saving Time and hence is 4 hours behind GMT in the winter and 5 hours in the summer; 1 hour ahead of US and Canada Eastern Standard Time (EST) in the winter and the same during US Daylight Saving Time.
Barbados is located in the Atlantic Time Zone at 13° 6′ N and 59° 37′ W.
English is the primary language spoken, although the Bajan dialect (broken English) is widely used by locals.
All beaches in Barbados are open to the public, locals, and tourists alike. West Coast beaches are the calmest and are good and safe for swimming, snorkeling and diving. South Coast beaches offer gentle winds and waves for bodysurfing, windsurfing and kite surfing. East and North Coast beaches bring huge waves and strong currents suitable for the experienced surfer but not for swimming, except for areas with protected bays.
Lifeguards are not stationed at all beaches across Barbados and, therefore, discretion should always be used when venturing into the ocean. Jet Skis and Wave Runners are fun and popular amongst visitors to the island; please consult with your local water sports operator.
The sole Barbados Airport is Grantley Adams International Airport (IATA Code: BGI), a modern Airport that has been awarded, on more than one occasion, the “Caribbean’s Leading Airport” award at the prestigious World Travel Awards.
The Barbados Airport is situated in the south-east of the island, approximately 13km (8 miles) from the capital city of Bridgetown, and also serves as a hub for the islands of the Eastern Caribbean.
Size & Location
Barbados is 166 square miles measuring only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide. It is the most easterly Caribbean country, with a population of approximately 287,371 (2020) people.
Weather & Climate
Barbados’ weather is mostly sunny and fair with warm days, cool winds, and cozy nights. The prevailing, cool northeast trade winds blow steadily so that, although bright and sunny, it is not unbearably hot.
Barbados has an average daytime high of 84 – 88° F or 29 – 31° C. The dry season in Barbados lasts from January to July. Tropical rainstorms sometimes occur in the hurricane season, which runs from July to November.
A 17.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) is charged at all stores and restaurants and 10% for hotel accommodation. There is a good selection of duty-free shopping available on the island, especially in Bridgetown, but other locations can also be found on the South and West Coasts.
Barbados runs on 110 volts, 50 cycles and some European appliances might require adapters.
The water in Barbados is safe to drink as it is filtered naturally through the coral limestone rock.
USEFUL CONTACTS - emergency, medical, tourism offices
The emergency numbers are:
- Police – 211
- Fire – 311
- Ambulance – 511
The island is supported by several private and public medical facilities, as well as first responder emergency medical personnel.
- Bayview Hospital – 246 436-5446
- FMH Emergency Medical Clinic – 246 228-6120
- Queen Elizabeth Hospital – 246 436-6450
- Sandy Crest Medical Centre – 246 419-4911
- The Sparman Clinic – 246 624-3278
Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc Offices
- Head Office: 246-535-3700
- Airport: 246-535-3816
- Cruiseport: 246-535-3817
Barbados is a very safe destination, however, it is always wise to ensure you plan carefully and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your property to ensure you have a great experience.
A Few Tips
- Make sure you travel with a valid passport or visa (if required). Also, bring another valid form of photo ID and photocopies of both IDs in case of loss or theft.
- Persons seeking to obtain a Barbados driver’s license should travel with a valid National or International license. All authorized car rental companies can issue you a driver’s license.
- Give friends and family your contact information and itineraries in case of emergency. Additionally, you can register with your country’s embassy or consulate before you travel; that way your country is aware of your whereabouts.
- Keep luggage, handbags or backpacks in view at all times and keep your possessions close to your body.
- Don’t take around large amounts of cash; credit cards and travelers cheques are more secure alternatives.
- Read up on local laws and practices before you get here or, as a start, you can peruse our ‘Before you Travel‘ and ‘Things to Know‘ sections above.
- Only use taxis, tours and other transportation services with official markings. Only select transportation from official pickup points at transportation hubs.
Since 2018, a number of travel fees have been in effect as a part of our government’s bold and progressive policies designed to renew our island’s economic position.
List of Fees
As a part of the initiatives implemented by the government, tourism and hospitality were identified as one of the important sectors which could assist in raising additional revenues that can be used for social programs, like healthcare or education, throughout all sectors on the island.
The fee structure below was implemented after an April 1st update; the Government has advised that a mandatory update to Room Rate Levy will be applied nightly for all registered hotel bills based in the following amounts, based on the rating/ranking attributed to them by the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA):
|Room Type||Amount of Levy (BDS$)|
|Apartment||$8.75 per bedroom per night|
|Guest House||$8.75 per bedroom per night Hotel|
|“B” Class||$8.75 per bedroom per night Hotel|
|“A” Class||$19.25 per bedroom per night|
|Vacation Rental Properties||3.75% of the rate charged per night. However, where that amount exceeds BDS $35.00 per night, the rate to be charged shall be BDS $35.00 per|
Getting Around in Barbados
While getting around Barbados, you’ll explore many breathtaking sights and the natural beauty of the island. Pay close attention to our universal signals since our island has several narrow roads, roundabouts, and the occasional steep hill or blind corner.
TIPS - maps, rentals, public transport
Directions & Maps
One of the rewarding ways to explore Barbados is by having a travelers’ adventure by retrieving a map for free at information booths, either at our airport or your hotel. Some Car Rental companies also provide road maps or carry a GPS service in their vehicles. Be sure to indicate your preferences before selecting your car rental dealer. Barbados’ road network provides many signs that inform you of where you are and directions to where you want to go. Alternatively, ask any of our friendly locals for directions.
Hiring a car is the best way to appreciate the beauty and character of Barbados; pay attention to the demonstration of the vehicle as most models are different from those in other Caribbean destinations. Always note the emergency number of your rental company to contact in case of an emergency. Please note, Barbadians drive on the left side of the road and seat belts are compulsory. Always be sure to secure your possessions and lock your vehicle when unattended.
Some rental companies on the island offer you the option to rent a scooter or bicycle. Always ensure, while traveling, that you wear the necessary protective gear provided and mandated by law. Hired vehicles in Barbados usually carry “H” on their number plates.
The speed limit for most roads in Barbados is 60 KM and 80 KM on designated highways.
Private Taxis & Tour Bus Operators
Visit the front desk or concierge of your accommodation to ask about affiliated taxi operators or taxi companies. The fare charges are based on the distance traveled and, in most cases, are fixed; please confirm the fare with the driver before starting your journey.
Tour Bus operators and some taxis offer tours around the island to some places of interest and other sights. You can contact your travel agent or hotel to have this arranged. Private taxis in Barbados bear “Z” or “ZM” on the number plate.
Alternatively, you can use Public Transportation which is also safe and convenient.
There are two types of public transportation in Barbados:
Transport Board Buses – These are government buses and are usually identifiable by being predominantly blue with a yellow stripe(some buses carry large advertising campaigns at the back and sides of the buses). These buses are a popular and cost-effective way to travel around Barbados. A one-way journey usually costs about $3.50 BDS or USD 1.75. Please have the exact fare ready, as buses do not give back change.
Mini Buses/ Vans – These are privately owned public transport vehicles – minivans (predominantly yellow) and maxi taxis (white with a maroon stripe – usually referred to by the locals as ZRs) which also cost $3.50 BDS for a one-way journey. These buses give back change, so you can pay with the money you have on-board.
Do remember that you need to signal the bus to stop, remember also to stand at an official bus-stop since public transport vehicles only stop or pick up passengers at bus stops. Bus stops (black and white striped poles with a predominantly red sign at the top) usually indicate traveling to the city or from the city.
Public Transport buses in Barbados bear “B” or “BM” on their number plate.
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